Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 673–686 | Cite as

Temperament in the First 2 Years of Life in Infants at High-Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Sally M. CliffordEmail author
  • Kristelle Hudry
  • Mayada Elsabbagh
  • Tony Charman
  • Mark H. Johnson
  • The BASIS Team


The current study investigated early temperament in 54 infants at familial high-risk of ASD and 50 controls. Parental report of temperament was assessed around 7, 14 and 24 months of age and diagnostic assessment was conducted at 3 years. The high-risk group showed reduced Surgency at 7 and 14 months and reduced Effortful Control at 14 and 24 months, compared to controls. High-risk infants later diagnosed with ASD were distinguished from controls by a temperament profile marked by increased Perceptual Sensitivity from the first year of life, and increased Negative Affect and reduced Cuddliness in the second year of life. Temperament may be an important construct for understanding the early infant development of ASD.


Autism spectrum disorder Broader autism phenotype High-risk siblings Temperament 



We are grateful for the enormous contributions BASIS families have made towards this study. The research reported here formed part of the thesis for Sally Clifford toward a Masters in Clinical Psychology, and was supported by The UK Medical Research Council (G0701484) to M. H. Johnson, the BASIS funding consortium led by Autistica ( and a Grant from Autism Speaks (1292). Further support for some of the authors is from COST action BM1004.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sally M. Clifford
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kristelle Hudry
    • 2
  • Mayada Elsabbagh
    • 3
    • 4
  • Tony Charman
    • 5
  • Mark H. Johnson
    • 3
  • The BASIS Team
  1. 1.School of PsychologyCharles Sturt UniversityBathurstAustralia
  2. 2.Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, School of Psychological ScienceLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, BirkbeckUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  5. 5.Centre for Research in Autism and Education, Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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